We’ll lead by example, so the South Philly Food Co-op won’t be so sad

Everyone’s favorite theoretical grocery store, the South Philly Food Co-op, posted a interesting blog post and a cute, guilt-inducing picture on its website last week.

Let’s perk these people up!

Titled Why is the Real Estate Committee So Sad?, the post laments that the membership numbers aren’t quite where they’d like them to be.

We’re usually a happy bunch!  I swear!

But these days the Co-op Real Estate Committee has been a bit blue.  Why?  We are ready to start looking for a space for our new neighborhood co-op, however, the Co-op market study tells us that we shouldn’t secure a location until we have 400 members.  We only have about 340.

Join Now

That motivated us to spread the word that you can even join on a payment plan, with the first payment plan as low as $25.

You can even get started by clicking on this fancy logo to the right (did we mention the low, low payment plan?).

But then we thought, who are we to judge? We should lead by example. So lo and behold, Passyunk Post is now one of the newest members of the South Philly Food Co-op. We started on the payment plan, which allows us the benefits of full membership even before completing our commitment of the $200 membership fee.

Yeah, we know. You don’t want to join until you find out where it is. Well, the only way you can influence where it will be is to join. So do it, today. You can even buy it as a gift, or put it on a credit card and let your future self deal with it.

Not only does joining now make the co-op happen sooner (you know you’d join after it opens anyway), but members also get all sorts of discounts at about 20 local businesses – check the full list here.

And if for nothing else, don’t you hate to see those nice people look so sad?

6 thoughts on “We’ll lead by example, so the South Philly Food Co-op won’t be so sad

  • February 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Just to clarify, your membership share is an investment, not a fee. It’s an ownership share of the business. If you move out of the neighborhood or no longer want to be part of the Co-op, your share is returnable as outlined in our bylaws.

  • February 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    This is the kind of thing I would love to be part of, but am still struggling to understand the benefits of a food coop. No one has made much of a convincing pitch to me about it. All I have heard from the organization seems to be join the coop so the community can get a coop. Or that they will stock organic products- which we already have at Green Aisle, the farmers market, Whole Foods, SuperFresh and Acme. I asked my friends who grew up with the one in Germantown how they feel about theirs and they were lukewarm. They said it was nice to have another store, but it was kind of expensive. If someone can convince me that this is really so great and worthwhile, I am totally ready to fork over my $200 and urge my friends too as well. Please sell me on it!

    • February 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Hi Dare,
      Excellent points all. The major difference between the retailers you cite and the Co-op is in the ownership structure. The Co-op is a member-owned, consumer cooperative grocery store. This means that the people who shop there who choose also to be members will have a voice in how the store is run and what kind of products will be offered. It will operate under the commitment to the 3 Ps – people, planet and profit. People means that the membership can choose to support the local economy so that this region’s farmers have another distribution point to ensure their own economic viability and long-run success. Planet – the members can also decide to focus on products that are sustainably and responsibly grown, raised and shipped (which goes way beyond simply organic, which nowadays is just a label many producers get for meeting minimal standards of pesticide and herbicide use). Profit – yes, it is a business. And the members expect it to be run so that it doesn’t lose money. But all those profits remain in the community, either reinvested in the store or used to support other educational programs that the Co-op sponsors (more things like our recent, well-attended speaker series event “What is Your Food Worth.”) And because it’s member-owned, this Co-op isn’t going anywhere. Your friends in Germantown may be lukewarm to Weaver’s Way but they can’t deny that as dozens of other business have come and gone over the last 40 years, Weaver’s Way has always been there, precisely because it is owned by the community. We hope that what we’re building here in South Philly will have the same staying power and that the grandchildren of the people who are starting this Co-op will be shopping there.

      I’m never going to convince you based on price. If you like the prices offered by Acme or Superfresh, then there’s not much I can say. At some point, like we learned at the “What is Your Food Worth Event,” those low prices will all cost us somehow… we just won’t see it immediately. The prices at the Co-op may be a little more for some items, but they reflect the actual costs that go into making that food and suppor the local prodcuers who make it. For other items, the Co-op may offer lower prices simply because we won’t demand the same margins as the chain stores. And we can guarantee that you’ll always know exactly where the food came from, who raised it and that it was selected based on this and not just how high the profit margins could be. If you value that, then that’s what your (and your friend’s) $200 helps create.

      Finally, and this isn’t about the store or the products, but I personally have to attest that being a part of this organization – attending events, working with others to make it happen – has been extremely rewarding and led me to make connections with people in the neighborhood whom I never would have met otherwise. I look forward to the day when I’m shopping at the Co-op and I know more than half the people who are shopping there and everyone who works there. That’s the “community” I heard about before moving to South Philly and this organization, more than almost any other I’ve been a part of here, makes it happen.

      • February 14, 2013 at 8:50 am

        Good answer, Dan.

      • February 15, 2013 at 10:46 am

        Thanks for the response! That was a great explanation of the mission and the benefits of joining. I’m convinced.

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